Optical fiber is a media through which optical signal modulated with data is transmitted. Optical fibers can transmit data over longer distances at higher rates than wire cables and are used in fiber-optic communications. Recently, researchers at the Eindhovan University of Technology (TU/e), the Netherlands and the University of Central Florida (CREOL), US have been able to successfully transmit 255 Terabits of data per second which is 21 times more than what is currently possible. The report has appeared in the journal Nature Photonics.
With growing internet usage and the needs for huge data transfers, the demand for higher bandwidths for telecommunication purposes is growing exponentially. Information is transmitted through optical glass fibers but in these, some data loss occurs during transmission. In order to increase the rate of transmission, power to the signals could be increased but this generates unwanted photonic non-linear effects. Due to this, the amount of data that can be recovered after transmission over standard optic fiber gets reduced.
Single-mode optical fibers have large transmission bandwidth and are being used for transmission of information. However, due to our highly information driven life, we are already nearing its maximum capacity. Using few-mode multicore optical fibers could increase the transmission capacity tremendously.
The research team of TU/e and CREOL led by Dr. Chigo Okonkwo and Dr. Rodrigo Amezcua Correa has developed a new type of multicore fiber optics cable having improved transmission capacity. In this fiber, the light travels through seven cores instead of through only one core in the currently used standard fibers (think of a seven-lane highway instead of a single-lane road). The researchers have also introduced two more “orthogonal dimensions” for data transmission (imagine 3 cars travelling on top of one another in a single lane). Due to this, the transmission rate increased tremendously and they were able to achieve a data transmission rate of 255 Terabits/s over the fiber, against the standard rate of 4 to 8 Terabits /s.
These multicore optical fibers are less that 200 microns in diameter and are not much bigger in size than the standard ones that are being currently used. These results are an important step towards achieving Petabits/s transmission rate by 2020, which is the target set by the European Commission under its Horizon 2020 research program.